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Our agenda left hanging The hung parliament puts in doubt the early childhood agenda that we fought so long to see state and federal governments implement — with the Coalition committed to a review without parameters or clear goals. Shayne Quinn vice president, early childhood


ith the federal election resulting in a hung parliament, the immediate to long term future of the early childhood education reform agenda is unknown. Should Julia Gillard and Labor be

unable to form a minority government we will see the defeat of the first federal government to recognise the critical importance of early childhood education to the life chances of children, and to begin implementing a national early childhood education strategy. Leading up to the 2007 election,

Growing in leaps and bounds


t is with great pride that we announce the growth of AEU membership. As we approach our 45,000th member, Victoria is now the second largest AEU branch in Australia. The early childhood sector in particular has seen magnificent growth in the past 12 months, up by 67%. Our teacher membership is up by 39% and our assistant membership has more than

trebled, up 216%. With workplaces like Clare Court Children’s Centre, with 100% ­membership among teachers and assistants, the sector continues to grow. Unity is strength — that’s not just a union saying but a fact. Our capacity to achieve is strengthened by acting together. Join Clare Court and achieve 100% AEU membership in your workplace. ◆

Clare Court members, L–R: Marg Geermans, Loredana Walker, Ana Paula Spiker, Amanda Beattie, Tracey Taylor. (Absent: Kellie Toth, Duane Fitzgerald; Sherril Milligan; Annette Lauder; Bronwyn McKenzie.)

the AEU called for a National Early Childhood Plan based on a partnership between the state and Commonwealth governments. The plan would: ensure universal access for all Australian children to at least one year of high-quality, free public preschool education; develop national goals and a policy framework for preschool education within an overall perspective on early childhood education, including minimum national standards and targets consistent with good educational practice; coordinate a national framework for preschool and early childhood education; develop national structures; develop funding agreements which move towards the achievement of national goals and standards and require the states and territories to maintain and increase their funding of preschool education. There is no denying the challenges of this vision (for workforce, infrastructure and funding) and the need for more time; however in the event of the formation of a minority Abbott Coalition government we are in imminent danger of seeing the baby thrown out with the bathwater. The Coalition has formally stated that it “will review early childhood education and, in close consultation with the states, will look to introduce universal subsidised early childhood education for all Australians. … Ideally, we would like to see all children be given a minimum of 10 hours a week in an accredited centre, taught

by qualified teachers.” (Australian Educator, Spring 2010). This statement provides us with more questions than it does answers and it is littered with qualifying words rather than strong commitment. How long will the review take? What will be its parameters and objectives? Who will undertake it and what will be the sectors’ involvement? How much subsidy and from whom, given that this was not identified in the Coalitions’ election financial commitments? Clearly it is not “all children”, but children of what age/s? And are those qualified teachers early childhood qualified teachers? A Coalition government with Tony Abbott as Prime Minister will, with his promised review and his commitment not to proceed with the National Quality Rating System put pause, if not an end, to this much needed early childhood education and care reform strategy. This includes any moves to increase the training of staff or improve staffto-child ratios. This would be a major step backwards for young children and for Australia and will have negative effects now and into the future. It is evident that the outcome of the election will evolve over the coming days and weeks. We will keep you advised of the impacts of this as they become known. ◆

A E U h e a d o f f i c e 112 Trenerr y Crescent, Abbotsford 3067 Tel: 03 9417 2822 Fax : 1300 658 078 Web : u v i c . a s n . a u

This is your pilot speaking It’s still early days for the universal access pilot programs, but AEU members have plenty to say on their progress so far. “Positive response from parents”


NITIALLY I was surprised at the prospect of being part of the universal access pilot but now I feel fortunate to be part of a group of teachers who will shape the future of the early childhood sector. With the support of my employer, BPA Children’s Services, I planned the 15-hour program to run over four consecutive days; three four-hour days and one three-hour day. Children at the kindergarten initially attended three days a week and I offered the parents another

day. I also run a program for 3-year-olds over two days. This has been maintained. The initial response from parents was overwhelmingly positive and there was also a happy response from the children. I chose to run the 15 hours over four days rather than three because it provided more learning opportunities for the children. It offered greater continuity of day-to-day experiences and allowed children who are delayed cognitively, physically,

Children benefit from more services

Jenny Heaps and children at Katandra West


E ARE a small rural centre in a small town 30km north east of Shepparton, in a dairy and orchard farming area which has suffered greatly during the current drought. Before the pilot study began, we operated on Monday and Wednesday as a long day session, with Wednesday as a combined group with 3-yearolds attending until midday. On Thursday, Take a Break Occasional Care operates at the centre, with children attending from babies to kindergarten age. Many kindergarten children attended all three days, which made the occasional care numbers very high. Now the kindergarten operates Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with Wednesday remaining a combined day. Most kindergarten children attending the occasional care session have been withdrawn, thus relieving the long waiting lists. A maternal child health nurse and a regular immunisation program complement the kindergarten and occasional care program and give focus to parents and children. The major challenges to our centre were the times, days and employment of staff. As the kinder-


Early Childhood newsletter | august 2010

garten was not in use on Tuesday and Friday, parents, staff and the council needed to discuss which would be more suitable for the added provision. As in many rural kindergartens, our assistant has a second job in another centre, so another assistant was appointed for the extra five hours. Parents were concerned about an increase in fees; would the children be too tired; and who would be the extra member of staff? Following a parent, staff and council meeting, agreement was reached and parents’ questions answered. The kindergarten has been operating Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during Term 3. The actual building needed no alterations. Indigenous children and children with disabilities now have more session time and more time for professional assistance. Various services are now more available; we can visit the mobile library regularly when it comes to town, and a visit by the library to the kindergarten has extended our literacy program. We can invite performers to the centre on more than just the single day if they are not suitable for 3-year-olds. Children have extended play and regularly say, “We will finish this tomorrow,” or “I will do this again tomorrow” — both phrases not used before to any great extent. Many parents have spoken approvingly of the extra five hours. They say their children are not tired as they thought they might be and they are more enthusiastic about attending kindergarten. Parents and staff will have regular evaluation sessions, with the first consultation at the end of August. ◆ Jenny Heaps Katandra West Early Childhood Centre, Shepparton

socially or emotionally to benefit from having more time to obtain support and to practice skills. Lastly, I have a blend of children from lowincome families, culturally and linguistically diverse families, and parents without the support of family and friends; for these children, attending kindergarten is their only means of socialising. ◆ Maria Tenaglia Willis Street Kindergarten

Keeping parents informed


E HAVE been lucky enough to be part of this pilot program for 15 hours of kindergarten run by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Once we found out we were successful we formed a committee within Banyule City Council (consisting of a number of staff from management through to the kindergarten staff) and started making decisions such as when it would start, how we would go about rolling it out, when to hold parent meetings and what information we needed to give to parents. We held a parent meeting and also translated information into the many languages of our families. We started the pilot at Olympic Village on August 16, with our two groups of children each attending two days a week from 8.30am to 4.15pm. We have received lots of positive feedback from the families about this pilot and the increase in hours. While the hours of kinder are increasing, only the arrangement of my hours will change as I am currently at the maximum of 38 hours. The arrangement of my non-contact hours will change and we will introduce another kindergarten teacher to job share. She will spend three hours per week with each group and some non-contact time with me. The early childhood educators’ hours will increase by 30 minutes a day over the four days they work. We are all very excited to be part of this pilot and are looking forward to the challenges and changes that are going to lie ahead. ◆ Amy Whittingham Olympic Village Preschool, Heidelberg West

The “must do” list With so much change on the agenda, what are the “must do’s” to remember when planning your timetable for 2011 to make the year go as smoothly as possible? Shayne Quinn vice president, early childhood


LANNING timetables for the coming year can be a challenging task for members and employers. There are sure to be strong views and preferences. This year the task is made even more complex by the huge change agenda we are all working through — whether it’s the transition to universal preschool or the introduction of our new agreements in community and council-run preschools, VECTAA and LGECEEA. Here are four things to bear in mind as you prepare your timetables.

❶ Meet the requirements of the Victorian Kindergarten Policy, Procedures and Funding Criteria 2010–12. Currently this government policy requires that “The service provider must offer each eligible child enrolled at each service location a minimum of 10 hours of funded kindergarten per week.” From January 2011, this will rise to 10 hours and 45 minutes. An employer may elect to deliver more than the minimum 10.75 hours per week; some already deliver 12 hours or more. As now, any such decision will be influenced by factors such as government policies, facilities, affordability of fees, community preferences for sessional, and long day or other models. (See p48 of the AEU VECTAA & LGECEEA Implementation Guide). ❷ Check the proposed timetable against the requirements of your new agreement. Our new VECTAA agreement for community-run preschools and LGECEEA, the agreement for councilrun facilities, both contain provisions around working hours and breaks, including: • Period provisions governing rest pauses for assistants (VECTAA clause 50, LGECEEA clause 37.4) • Spread of hours for assistants (VECTAA clause 48.1, LGECEEA clause 34.2.1) • Allocation of teaching/non-teaching time for teachers (VECTAA clauses 38.1.4–5, LGECEEA clauses 34.1.3–4) • Contact, preparation and non-teaching time for assistants (VECTAA clause 48.2) • Meal break provisions (note in particular the time worked before the start of a meal break) (VECTAA clauses 41 & 49, VECTAA clause 37) • On-call provisions for assistants (VECTAA clause 53, LGECEEA clause 39). ❸ Listen carefully to the views being expressed by others. Even among members there are varying views about the appropriateness of some possible timetables. Among parents there will be an equal array of views. Try to

consider the impact of potential timetables on all participants (children, parents and staff). Impacts can be equally many and varied —working it out together may offer a greater chance of success.

❹ Implement the Introduction of Change provisions as required. Any employer who has decided to implement new arrangements of hours for staff is obliged to notify staff in writing, and to notify the AEU if the staff requests this (VECTAA clause 10.1.2, LGECEEA clause 12.1). Further, the employer is required to discuss the change with the affected employees and the union (VECTAA clause 10.1.3, LGECEEA clause12.3). Discussion should focus on the likely effects on employees and measures to avert or mitigate any adverse effects. Remember the impact of a change may not be significant for all employees. For example, a change to the days on which a part-time teacher works may have little impact if this is their only job, but may be significant if they work elsewhere also. And remember — members can contact the Membership Services Unit with any questions about implementing VECTAA/LGECEEA in the context of timetabling. ◆

Our youngest delegate W

elcome to our youngest early childhood, branch council and annual conference delegate — Claudia Jade. With mum Martel Menz committed to keeping in touch and engaged with the work of the union as early childhood deputy vice president, Claudia joined us for a full couple of days — for sector and branch councils on Friday, July 30 and annual branch conference the next day. ◆


Introducing your early childhood councillors

Over the next few editions of your Early Childhood Newsletter, we will be introducing the members of the early childhood sector council.

Dianne O’Dwyer St Brendan’s Kindergarten, Flemington (NW3)


any of you have already experienced our sector councillors’ commitment and activism through their engagement with you as members in their local electorates. Collectively they fulfil a critical role by representing members’ views in council discussions and deliberations and by consulting and providing information to members. We have a number of vacancies on sector council. Any interested member should contact Shayne Quinn — email or call her on (03) 9417 2822.

Nicole Bourke Ascot Kindergarten, Ascot Vale (NW3)


became a sector councillor in 2006 to develop my knowledge about what happens behind the scenes at the AEU and to gain a greater understanding of our entitlements. I wanted to be proactive about my passion for EC education and advocating for the best conditions for teachers, assistants and children. I’ve been able to develop my networks beyond my immediate teaching area. I’m able to voice my opinions when needed, and have input in discussions about issues that arise and

decisions that need to be made. I am also on branch council which is where all education sectors come together — TAFE, secondary, primary, early childhood and disability workers. I chose to be part of this so I could learn more about the issues other sectors face and how they deal with them. I am particularly interested in sustaining and developing the number of graduates that are choosing to enter the early childhood field, and how we can make the field appealing to new grads that have a choice of primary or EC. I am also keen to increase the member participation on sector council. This is very important to the work the AEU does for us as members; it is vital that as members we have a voice and assist with the progression and inroads the AEU is making. ◆

Validation training A

re you considering undertaking the validation process? The AEU is again offering free training for members with experienced facilitator Rosalie Kinson. Learn about the domains and standards and how to select and describe your evidence. Registration is necessary — email by September 14. For more information call (03) 9417 2822 or go to Where: AEU Office, 112 Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford When: Wednesday, 22 September, 10am–1pm. A light working lunch will be provided. ◆


have been a sector councillor with the AEU for 15 years. Before this, I had a similar role on the council of the Kindergarten Teachers Association of Victoria (KTAV). I became a councillor to advocate for early childhood issues from a teacher’s point of view and for what is best practice for children. Sector council has enabled me to understand the background behind decisions made for and by our sector, and to participate in decision-making that affects us. Personally it has been very satisfying. I have developed a lot of communication skills and I have made a lot of friends throughout the state who share my interest in early childhood education. I feel in touch with new developments both industrially and professionally through the network of sector councillors and members. It has helped me to embrace the many changes we have made recently and reduced isolation. I am proud that the AEU has achieved pay parity with the school sector, our transfer to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, our coverage of assistants, and the new curriculum framework. These are all achievements that I have fought long and hard for, and feel I have made some contribution towards. There is still a lot to be done; we want to be employed by the DEECD and win further recognition of assistants, infrastructure improvements, funding for 3-year-olds and more. I plan to continue my contribution for the benefit of our sector in every way I can. ◆

everyday banking for everyday needs We can cater for your everyday banking needs and advise you how to bank fee-free, like many of our Members. Choose from a range of savings accounts - all with a wide range of access channels. To deposit your pay automatically, advise your Payroll Officer of our BSB 704 - 191 and your Member number. For more information visit or call 1300 654 822. This information does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore you should firstly consider the appropriateness of this information and refer to the Terms and Conditions or the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before acquiring a product. These documents are available at our branches or by calling 1300 654 822.


Early Childhood newsletter | august 2010

Early Childhood Sector Newsletter, Term 3, 2010  
Early Childhood Sector Newsletter, Term 3, 2010  

The newsletter for AEU VB early childhood members for term 3, 2010.